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easier the carrying forward of the ancient culture into the Middle
Ages. It was in the East, and notably in Syria, that its influence
was most direct and immediate. There, catechetical schools on
the model of that of Alexandria, sometimes under the direct
impulsion of Alexandrian teachers, sprang up in various centres,
in which the light of learning continued to burn brightly after
darkness had come down on the greater part of Europe. It is a
fact of special interest in this connection that a direct line of suc-
cession can be traced from Alexandria through Antioch and
Edessa to the Nestorian school of Nisibis (founded in 489), from
which the works of Aristotle passed into the hands of Moham-
medan scholars, there to be treasured till they returned again to
Europe in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries.


With the restoration of law and order in the reign of Diocletian
(284-305) the schools of the Empire entered on what was to prove
their last period of prosperity. Once again the study of literature
and rhetoric flourished, and the peripatetic exponents of sophistry
found welcome everywhere. But their triumph was short-lived,
In 313 Constantine (306-337), abruptly reversing the policy of
his predecessors, issued the famous decree of Milan which ended
the persecution of Christians and gave them the same civic rights
as the followers of other religions. Constantine, it is true, imposed
no disabilities on the schools. On the contrary, he did everything
in his power to promote their interests and make good the losses
they had suffered in the times of anarchy. Fie encouraged scholars
to come to Constantinople, the new capital he had created for his
empire, and endowed the teaching of grammar, rhetoric, philos-
ophy and jurisprudence with a liberality which made it the rival
and ultimately the superior of Athens and Alexandria. And he
restored to teachers everywhere the salaries and immunities
which had lapsed since the time of Alexander Severus, extended
their privileges by forbidding anyone to injure them or sue them
at law, and conferred similar privileges on their wives and families.
His purpose, he declared, was " to make it easier for them to
teach the liberal studies to many people/* But the fact that
Christianity was treated with tolerance was felt by many of the